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Faculty Sound Off in Campus Climate Survey

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Sierra Nevada College faculty and staff were encouraged to participate in the first annual campus climate survey this fall, which sought to discover what employees think needs to be improved while highlighting existing strengths of the college. The survey was part of national poll administered to college campuses across the country. A little over half of the faculty and staff, including part-time adjunct professors, returned the survey.

The survey found that overall, employees enjoy working at Sierra Nevada College. In particular, employees enjoy working with their colleagues and supervisors within their respective departments. Employees also enjoy the flexibility they have within their jobs and the opportunities they have be innovative and creative in their work.

However, the survey also found that among faculty and staff there is lack of clarity for the vision and direction of the college. They are unsure how current strategies fit into the long-term goals of the college. Employees felt they needed to be more valued for their contributions to the college. They also felt that leadership of the college could be improved.

“This is the first time to my knowledge there’s been a comprehensive survey like this for faculty and staff,” Sierra Nevada College President Alan Walker said.

The Sierra Nevada College administration sought professional assistance in analyzing the results of the survey. There was an open forum for faculty and staff where the summarized results of the survey were presented and open for questions. Employees who wanted to learn more were invited to view the full, lengthy document with Walker in his office.

President Walker also met individually with leaders from the SNC’s faculty council and employee recognition and development committee to discuss the survey and the actions his staff plans to take in response.

“As the President, of course, I am the one ultimately responsible for following up on this,” Walker said. “Particularly in the areas of leadership.”

Walker plans to bring attention back to the college’s strategic plan, so that faculty and staff remain aware of the long-term vision for the campus.

“The college has a strategic plan that was adopted in 2014. It had faculty and staff participation as well,” Walker said. “We probably need to revisit that strategic plan. I’m sure back in 2014 people were much more aware of it [then] and have become less aware of it as time has gone by.”

Walker said he also plans to improve communications between the administration, faculty and staff.

“We do things that are intended to [build communication], but there are areas we can improve in I’m sure,” Walker said.

“Two or three times a year I send out a comprehensive President’s update. It goes to all the faculty and staff. It’s very detailed and lengthy. It’s the same information that I provide to our board of trustees.”

Walker’s staff also provides yearly budget updates and newsletters intended to keep employees informed. But Walker said, “there’s always room for improvement.”

Walker believes that he can personally improve communication at the college by being more involved on campus.

“It’s kind of a delicate balancing act,” he said. “[My] time has to get divided between meeting with donors, working with the board of trustees and working with the community.

“One of the things I want to spend more time on is just walking around campus and visiting classes that are going on and visiting people in their offices.”

By comparing the results of this year’s survey to future surveys, President Walker hopes to see improvements in these areas of employee concern.

There is also a similar survey conducted with students every year.

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The student news site of Sierra Nevada College
Faculty Sound Off in Campus Climate Survey